Engaged couple Dottie Coven and Keith Stewart busily crisscross the country for their jobs, racking up tons of frequent flyer miles. So, it’s no surprise that the pair was in the airport when they came up with a creative idea for their wedding ceremony.
“We were literally sitting at a gate in Baltimore, waiting for a flight and just thinking, ‘What should we do?’ ” Coven told WFAA.com. “And we thought, ‘What about getting married on a plane?’ ”
They contacted Southwest Airlines and cashed in enough of their combined 1.5 million Rapid Rewards points to secure tickets for about 30 family members and friends. And on a flight Sunday somewhere between Nashville and Dallas – with a flower girl who handed out pretzels and peanuts down the center aisle – they tied the knot at 35,000 feet.
Coven, who boarded the flight in a white wedding dress and veil, moved toward the rear of the plane before dancing back to the front, where the officiant – the groom’s brother-in-law – announced to all onboard, “We are gathered here today, whether you intended to or not, to celebrate the wedding of Dottie Coven and Keith Stewart.”
“If anyone can show just cause why they may not be lawfully joined together,” the officiant announced over Flight 4058’s public address system, “let them push their flight attendant call button now.”
The couple previously had secured their marriage license in Tennessee, and relied on their mobile phones to read their vows, with the bride stating, “I, Dottie, choose you, Keith, to be my husband in front of our friends, our family, and random but very special guests.”
Coven, 44, who works in sales, and Stewart, 38, who works in IT, live outside of Louisville, Kentucky, and met two years ago on a dating website. When they approached the airline with their idea, the company’s marketing team sensed a tie-in with Southwest’s corporate “NONSTOP Love” campaign, heralding the recent expansion of flights from the airline’s hub of Dallas’s Love Field.
Although the airborne ceremony was not the first for the carrier, “we thought this was a great idea,” Southwest spokesperson Michelle Agnew tells PEOPLE. Apart from the couples’ invited guests, the rest of the 143 passengers onboard the sold-out flight received a note at the boarding gate that “cordially invited” them to attend the brief ceremony, which followed the drink service “so that our customers were happy and taken care of,” says Agnew.
“A lot of things around flying tend not to be fun,” said Coven, so the couple decided, “Let’s make it fun again!”
As a gift, Southwest flew the newlyweds for free to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the honeymoon.
“It really is all about love and being together and just creating memories,” Coven tells PEOPLE. “To see 100 other people that we don’t even know just excited and smiling – it’s not very often that we get to just make people smile. The fact that they could share that with us was pretty phenomenal.”